Sophomore guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 10 points in 15 minutes Monday afternoon in his return to basketball for the UTSA Roadrunners.
A good sign, indeed, for UTSA.
But with Jackson’s playing time limited, the UC Irvine Anteaters held off the Roadrunners 65-56 at the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Jackson led the Roadrunners in scoring last year with 18.4 points per game before he went down in late February with an injury to his left knee.
The injury knocked him out of tournament play, and it also kept him out of the first three games this season.
But after UTSA’s 82-60 loss at Oklahoma State last Wednesday and before the team left for Florida over the weekend, Jackson was cleared to play.
“It wasn’t a surprise that he’d be able to come in there and give us a boost,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the UTSA radio broadcast. “He had been practicing at a high level. We’re excited to have him out there.”
Jackson entered the game mid-way through the first half and, in a couple of three-minute stretches, he missed a couple of shots.
In the second half, the former standout for Euless Trinity High School and the Puerto Rico junior national team scored on a breakaway layup and a three-pointer to get the cold-shooting Roadrunners moving.
Trailing by 25 at one point, UTSA put together a 16-2 run fueled by Jackson and Keaton Wallace to cut the lead to 11.
The free-flowing scoring spree was a welcome sight for Henson, whose team had been struggling in losses to St. Edward’s, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with Jackson watching from the bench.
“Scoring (those) points in 15 minutes is great,” Henson said. “But it (also) makes other guys more comfortable. It opens up things for other people. It allows us to play a little faster. It has more effect (on the team) than just him scoring.”
Wallace scored a season-high 23 points, which was likely not a coincidence.
With Jackson running the floor and the defense spread, Wallace found his shooting stroke in the second half.
“We’ve got spacing when we’ve got those two guys out there together,” Henson said on KTKR radio. “When one of those guys is not on the floor, people are (playing) them pretty tight …
“When they’re in there together, the floor spacing is better and it helps Keaton.”
UTSA (0-4) plays South Dakota State (3-2) on Tuesday and an opponent to be determined on Wednesday, before returning home.
UC Irvine (5-0) is picked to win the Big West Conference. The Anteaters have registered wins early against Texas A&M annd Santa Clara.
Jackson initially was credited with 13 points. But the final boxscore indicated he scored 10 points on 3 of 7 shooting from the field.
He also hit 2 of 3 from three-point territory. Playing with energy, Jackson had three rebounds, one assist and a steal.
Coming into the game, Wallace had made only 14 of 47 from the floor. He was 8 of 16 against Irvine.
UTSA’s other four starters continued to struggle. Byron Frohnen, Atem Bior, Nick Allen and Giovanni De Nicolao were a combined 4 for 28 afield.